Nemo Hornet Elite 2P Review: 28 Square Foot Bachelor Pad
On the hunt for an incredibly ultralight tent but not willing to sacrifice features like bug mesh, vestibules, and multiple doors? The NEMO Hornet Elite 2P is as light – or even lighter – than some of the most tiny one-person shelters we have seen, but offers increased liveability and doesn’t skimp on clever features.
If there is one thing I have learned about myself over the past few years of bikepacking, it’s that if I don’t get a decent night of sleep, it’s going to take me that much longer to return to my joyful, sarcastic self in the morning. This was tested, and confirmed, on my recent BC Epic 1000 race, where longer days and earlier mornings resulted in my usual sleep routine being stretched dangerously thin. To provide a means for such a rest, I prefer to have some liveable room within my shelter, and am willing to pay for that by adding weight to my kit. But when there was an opportunity to add to the creature comforts by increasing the internal space, adding another door and vestibule, and decreasing the weight of my shelter… how could I say no?
The NEMO Hornet Elite 2P is designed as an ultralight two-person, freestanding tent. It utilizes a single Y-shaped pole, similar to that of the Big Agnes Fly Creek series, which lends itself to its tapered stature and ultimately a lighter overall package. I’ll be honest, the few times I shared the Hornet Elite with a sleeping companion, it was cramped and the slanted walls meant next to no actual livable space inside – not bad if you’re not as hung up on having a comfortable sleep as I am. However, with two doors on either side of the shelter, it is possible to make it work for two if you don’t mind getting extra cozy at night. Weighing in at only 995g, I quickly tossed a ‘no vacancy’ sign outside and happily adopted the Hornet Elite as my roomy one-person tent. Sorry friends!
The Hornet Elite is the premium sibling to the regular Hornet 2P shelter, and although there is a fairly significant jump in price, there isn’t a hugely notable difference in what you get. The most obvious difference are the fabrics used – the Elite uses a 7D Silnylon in both the vestibule and the fly, and 10D Ripstop Silnylon for the floor while the slightly heavier (we’re talking grams here) Hornet 2P uses a 10D and 15D Silnylon respectively. One other difference is the amount of mesh on the Hornet Elite compared to its counterpart – Nemo did a good job maximizing amount of mesh that could be used along the sides of the shelter, which creates a super breathable shelter and keeps things super light.
Although I showed up for this year’s BC Epic 1000 with no intention to race, that changed quickly, and the Hornet Elite 2P came along for the ride. Prior to receiving this tent, I had been using the Tarptent ProTrail, so I was no stranger to ultralight and ultra-packable shelters. Still, I immediately found the Hornet was easier to stuff into the depths of my Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion or up front under my handlebar.
Even after forgoing some of the calculated packing I was used to due to riding longer than anticipated days, the Hornet held up surprisingly well during the race. At first I felt like I needed to be quite delicate with the tent, given its thin silnylon construction, but after stuffing it away into a dry bag over and over it looks like it can still take a bit of a beating. It is worth noting that as with other ultralight tents, a bit more attention is required to where you set up, and slightly more care with cleaning, and storage. I also brought the Hornet along for an impromptu alpine trail hunt in Whistler and Squamish, where higher elevations and exposed camping called for extra care. The foot of the tent was positioned into the wind, to help cut it rather than catch it like a sail, and I ensured all pegs were securely placed and positioned for a taut body and fly. No issues. There are also three extra guy points, with cordage, that could be pegged out for an even more solid setup, but I have yet to camp anywhere that required the extra stability.
The reasonably sized vestibules (yeah that’s right, there are two of them) were especially handy for drying out my riding gear during the evenings, and ensured no stinky socks or shoes ended up inside. When the fly is deployed and tensioned, there are clever little clips attached to the body’s mesh that in turn can be pulled out to the fly to keep things roomy inside. The Hornet also includes fly-to-pole velcro tabs to keep things lined up, which are useful when camping in especially exposed areas where wind and rain might be an issue. For those who still make use of features like internal pockets and overhead headlamp diffusers, like myself, you will be happy to find small storage compartments on either side of the tent to keep personal belongings nearby. As well as an overhead pocket for a headlamp to create internal ambience for reading or artsy glowing night time tent photos. The worst bachelor pad is a messy bachelor pad, and Nemo made it easy to keep things in check within the Hornet.
You’ll also notice from the photos that the majority of the main body is constructed from mesh. This means great ventilation inside the tent, and when the fly isn’t needed… 5-star stargazing opportunities. The only non-meshed section exists at the head of the tent, which is given away by the shaped fly where it isn’t needed. There isn’t a huge overlap here, and I was worried that rain could potentially enter from this point, but in a handful of rainy nights this spring, I have yet to experience any leakage.
I stand at 6’1”, teetering on the edge of regular length and ‘tall’ sleeping bags, and sometimes have an issue with tent lengths as well. Although I fit comfortably within the Hornet’s 85” x 51” floor space, there was very little room at both my head and my feet, so anyone over 6’2” may want to consider something a little longer. One benefit of bunking solo is that you can sprawl out diagonally to make the most of the space within the tent, and I sometimes did this on rainy nights to stay away from the tent body…this might work for tall folk as well.
- The lightweight but roomy design, if used solo, is potentially the tent’s best selling feature.
- Two vestibules and two doors are not often found on comparable lightweight shelters.
- Plenty of little features like the body-to-fly attachment points, overhead headlamp storage / diffuser, three extra guy points, and the compressible storage sack.
- The mesh body helps with ventilation, avoiding condensation buildup inside the tent, and star gazing.
- As a two person tent, it is very cramped. Even when bunking with my girlfriend Emily, whom I don’t mind at all, the lack of room wasn’t totally comfortable.
- Semi freestanding design still requires pegs for a proper setup, especially in windy or rainy environments.
- Possibly a bit short for those taller than 6’2″.
- Like other Y-pole based tents, wind direction and weather must be taken into consideration on the orientation of the tent before setting up, as both sides act as sails.
- The Hornet Elite 2p is a little pricey, but you can get the regular Hornet 2p for $369.95 and it only weighs around 50 grams more.
- Model Tested: 2017 Nemo Hornet Elite 2P
- Weight (as tested/2017 version): 995 grams (2.19 lbs)
- Price: $499.95
- Packed Size: 19″ x 5″ (48cm x 12cm); uncompressed
- Floor Area: 28sq ft (2.6sq meters)
- Place of manufacture: China
- Contact: NemoEquipment.com
Nemo’s claims for the Hornet Elite 2P tent are surprisingly accurate. It is without a doubt one of the lightest ‘semi’ freestanding tents that still offers two doors and two vestibules. Even so it doesn’t hold back on features that make it attractive and comfortable for self-supported bikepacking. It’s simple design makes it easy to pitch, like you’ve practiced setting it up a thousand times before. The interior is spacious enough to accommodate one person plus a tiny friend if you really need to, although I wouldn’t recommend it. The Nemo Hornet Elite 2P checks off all of the required boxes for me, and is definitely worth considering for those looking for a new place to call home.
Disclosure: The Nemo Hornet Elite 2P was provided for this review by Nemo.